advertisement
07 September 2012

Childhood sexual abuse linked to heart attacks in men

Men who experienced childhood sexual abuse are three times more likely to have a heart attack than men who were not sexually abused as children, according to a new study.

0

Men who experienced childhood sexual abuse are three times more likely to have a heart attack than men who were not sexually abused as children, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Toronto. The researchers found no association between childhood sexual abuse and heart attacks among women.

In a paper published online in the journal Child Abuse & Neglect, investigators examined gender-specific differences in a representative sample of 5095 men and 7768 women aged 18 and over, drawn from the Center for Disease Control’s 2010 Behavioural Risk Factor Surveillance Survey.

A total of 57 men and 154 women reported being sexually abused by someone close to them before they turned 18 and 377 men and 285 women said that a doctor, nurse or other health professional had diagnosed them with a heart attack or myocardial infarction.

How the study was done

The study was co-authored by four graduate students at the University of Toronto, Raluca Bejan, John Hunter, Tamara Grundland and Sarah Brennenstuhl.“Men who reported they were sexually abused during childhood were particularly vulnerable to having a heart attack later in life,” says lead author Esme Fuller-Thomson, Professor and Sandra Rotman Chair at University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work.

“We had expected that the abuse-heart attack link would be due to unhealthy behaviours in sexual abuse survivors, such as higher rates of alcohol use or smoking, or increased levels of general stress and poverty in adulthood when compared to non-abused males.

However, we adjusted statistically for 15 potential risk factors for heart attack, including age, race, obesity, smoking, physical inactivity, diabetes mellitus, education level and household income, and still found a three-fold risk of heart attack.”

Why men experienced a higher chance for heart attack

Co-author and PhD candidate Sarah Brennenstuhl notes that, “It is unclear why sexually abused men, but not women, experienced higher odds of heart attack; however, the results suggest that the pathways linking childhood sexual abuse to physical health outcomes in later life may be gender-specific. For example, it is possible that females adopt different coping strategies than males as women are more likely to get the support and counselling needed to deal with their sexual abuse.”

“These findings need to be replicated in future scientific studies before we can say anything definitive about this link,” cautions Fuller-Thomson. “But if other researchers find a similar association, one possible explanation is that adverse child experiences become biologically embedded in the way individuals react to stress throughout their life, particularly with respect to the production of cortisol, the hormone associated with the “fight-or-flight” response. Cortisol is also implicated in the development of cardiovascular diseases.

(EurekAlert, September 2012)

Read more:   

South Africa's silent victims  

Signs of sexual abuse         

 

More:

SexNews
advertisement

Get a quote

advertisement

Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Live healthier

Hit the road »

Advice for the long runner Hill training: how to do it Why running is good for you

What to wear when you run

You do not need a gym membership to run. All you need is the correct clothing and you're ready to reap the benefits.

Carb danger »

Why we get fat Why you need to worry about fructose Craving sugar? Blame your brain

Carbs make you sick

Dr Gary Fettke, who believes that the foods we eat are the leading cause of lifestyle diseases speaks of Carbohydrate Diabetes, not Sugar Diabetes.